Preview: Minnesota United, needing a victory and some help to make the postseason, plays the last North American Soccer League match at the National Sports Center in Blaine, home to local soccer for 22 full seasons since 1990. The team moves to Major League Soccer next year and a new temporary home at TCF Bank Stadium. Clinching the fourth and final playoff spot requires a United victory against New York and a Rayo OKC loss on Sunday. If things break the Loons’ way, they will head to No. 1 overall seed New York for a Nov. 5 rematch. The Cosmos, which has clinched a playoff spot, is hot, losing only once in its past 15 games. “They are killing it in the league,” Minnesota defender Justin Davis said. United coach Carl Craig expects a full New York effort. “You look at their results of late — they’re not taking their foot off the gas,” Craig said. “They’re banging on.”

Players to watch: Minnesota striker Christian Ramirez (18 goals) has a three-goal lead in the Golden Boot race over Cosmos midfielder Juan Arango and Indy Eleven forward Eamon Zayed as the league’s top goal scorer. Ramirez won the award in 2014 with 20 goals and could become the first player to win the award twice in the modern NASL era.

Numbers: In 10 previous meetings, New York has won five times and played Minnesota to four draws. The Loons’ only victory came on April 23 in Blaine.

Injuries: Minnesota defender/midfielder Jeb Brovsky suffered a season-ending knee injury last week at Carolina.

 

david la vaque